Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quill Whitebox Scenario: Aboard a Sky Pirate's Ship

You are crewing on Captain Windsong's vessel, the Old Hand, earning your way elsewhere. Windsong is an honorable man by pirate standards, and runs a tight ship. Old friend or not, there are no passengers, only crew or prisoners. So you are now crew. You will contribute to the well-being of the skyboat or you will be marooned.

Profile: You have another old friend in the region, Boory al-Safufi, a person of letters who dwells in a small college upon a bucolic island. It's possible she could take you in for a few weeks while you seek out less piratical, more direct transportation.

Ink Pot

air kraken / sky squid
old coins / millenial doubloons
old island / Horus' Marker
 gliding varmit / saileater
enemy vessel / Tandalosian destroyer
privateers / anti-pirate task force
boarding gear / glide harness
sword / vibro-cutlass
cat / good luck charm
shanty / Rum's Blues
crystal / engine heart
bylaws / pirate's code
cargo / spider silks
refugees / fleeing Antillians


5-: You are marooned.
6-9: 20gp, an alright haul, and some of the crew even like you
10+: 40gp, cask of rum, the crew will miss you

Quill Sky Jail Actual Play

Dearest Captain Windsong - 

I find myself imprisoned Northish and below Antillus, in a Tandalos prison moon (355, +1), and urgently request your aid. I believe the transmit crystal I've found will allow me to describe a way for you to both rescue me, and profit. P: 3, 4 (+1)

The moon is a tiny, ugly fist of stone, orbiting a larger island of waterfalls and jungle. Within the fist's clutches are many hair-fine veins of adamantium (456, +1), and every week shipments are lashed to the surface and collected by a mildly-armed transport. This shipment's lashings could be cut a day early - the prison has no vessel which could easily collect the entire shipment, and through my magic I could waft some of the crates and myself to the island. P: 2, 5 (+1)

The dominant group in my sector, the packing quadrant, are a group of crazed gangers (231) who spout philosophical drivel. I have nevertheless ensorcelled a lieutenant in their midst, who will help me gain access to the crates before they are nailed shut. All he asks is that I become a semi-member via the application of a few tattoos. P: 3, 4 (+1)

I have also made a pact with the native spark spirits (445, +1), who now hide deep within the mine. They will help confuse the moon's exterior sensorium during my jettisoning, in exchange for passage off the moon and on your vessel. They ask only that we find them the nearest uninhabited moon to dwell upon. Given that they will help me escape and you gain valuable ore, I have agreed to their terms. P: 3, 5 +1

I must carry out my escape within 3 weeks - I fear by then they will discover my magus soul and bring me before some horrid device (F: 4, 243), in order to animate another ticking clockwork soldier. P: 4, 1 +1

Please come before then, for myself and your adamantium.

Yours in Hope,

PS Rufus, my cat, is also aboard the moon, and would obviously come with me. Cheers!

Score: 7, escaped!

Quill White Box: Prison in the Sky, Clockwork Automata Class

Captured by Tandalos magitech automata, you were transported via a black iron skyship to a small prison moon, where you may expect a life of forced labor or conversion to a clockwork golem, in time. But you've managed to steal back your writing gear and a sending crystal.

Profile: A pirate or privateer in the area, Captain Lest Windsong, is known to you, and could aid your escape if you can describe it well. The interior of the moon, where you now reside, is maze-like. The empire filled it with territorial gangs, while machine-clad guards stand aloof, preventing escape but not violence.

Ink Pot
PA / iron speaker crystal
ichor / crimson ferrofluid
crazed gangers / Last Thought monks
arresting magic / anti-riot halt invocation
sublevel / dank underwarren
will o' wisps / native spark sprites
elder guardsman / Bloody Red McDermont
fight / rowdy brawl
store / illicit canteen
ore / adamantium
poster / escape tunnel
the hole / converted torture chamber
horrid device / soulthresher
jail / prison moon

5-: You do not escape, and are converted to a magitech automata via the soulthresher. You wake up in 1d6 years as a Freed Clockwork Automata, see below

6-9: You manage to steal 15 gp in your escape for yourself.

10+: You manage to steal 30 gp and can take +1 to 2 rolls in the Captain Windsong's Vessel letter.

Freed Clockwork Automata

Heart: 1 die
Penmanship: 3 dice
Language: 2 dice.

Overdrive: 3 times per letter, you may add a bonus die to a roll. You may add multiple bonus die to a roll, and can use these after rolling your normal dice. You overclock your internal magitech network of energy, emitting smoke and steam, but thankfully not anywhere near the parchment upon which you write.

You've been lost in your shell's combat katas for at least a year, degrading your ability to use flourishes to draw people in with your passion. Inside the vessel, your feelings wash over you as though from a great distance. Each letter you write is as precisely executed as your combat routines, aiding your penmanship. You inbuild word repository is more than adequate for parsing orders, but the memory buffer you have may constrain the vocabulary you could otherwise recall.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quill White Box: Sky City Under Attack

Antillus, one of the great Sky Cities, is under attack. The Tandalos Empire's airships have blockaded the city and landed marines and clockwork golems to capture the Queen and her prince, destroy the city guard, and lay claim to the capitol of the Azure Skyway.

Profile: You are describing your actions during the attack to a friend, M'Kala Brightborn - you either escape from the city or bunker down to carry out guerrilla attacks. M'Kala grows blockade-running seedships and could get supplies in, or provide you with the means to get further away from the city.

Ink Pot
fires / raging conflagration
broke / sundered
footsoldiers / Tandalos Marines Bevel Division
alley / shadowy lane
elevator / venerable lift
safehouse / discreet
airboat / willowy skysloop
golem / magitech automata
tunnel / Builder's vent
weapons / humming armament
comms / speaking crystal

5 or less: You are captured before any supplies or seedships can arrive. See JAILBREAK scenario

6-9: A seedship arrives in a fairly timely fashion. 15 gp in supplies arrive.

10+: 30 gp in supplies arrive from a stealthy, agile seedship. 

Writ by Renald, Sorcerer
Heart: 1 die
Penmanship: 2 die
Language: 3 die

Dearest M'Kala -

I awoke to the airships of the Tandalos Empire pouring fire into buildings and roads nearby. From my balcony, as I stood dumbstruck, I could see their footsoldiers marching in the streets, clearing buildings, fighting our guardsmen. P: 1, 1

I draped my robes about me and drew the fire of my Will close. I put Rufus in the armored cat carrier you sent - thank you again for that! Opening my apartment door, I was facing a blade-handed magitech automata (+1). P: 6, 4

It drew back its slender, black iron limb, but I was swifter, electricity cracking from my gesturing hand into it. I believe the Empire had spied out the homes of at least some of us war veterans - why else would this thing come calling to my door? Pondering such over the slagged heap of ceramic and ore, I headed to the venerable lift (+1), a Builder-relic which always calms me with its strange music. I took it to the sub-basement, but my fears were such that I scarce noticed its sounds. P: 4, 4 (+1)

I sought the inter-building tunnel connection and heard echoing retorts of firearms, screams, shouted orders. Truly it must be Tandalos spies which let them take the city, if they had already begun to use our subterranean infrastructure to move about. P: 6, 1 (+1)

I happened upon Klos and some of his fellow guardsmen - we now seek a cache of humming armaments (+1) with which we will strike back against these Tandalos cowards. M'Kala, if you can, we desperately need a seedship of supplies from you. Only yours are subtle enough to skip through the blockade. I fear that without your help, our efforts will be for naught. P: 3, 1

- Renald

5 points, a failure. Renald is captured and jailed, and I write from the Jailbreak scenario.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fighting Former Presidents

I had too weird of a dream to not write it up. I think I've read and thought about cyber ninjas too much. (In progress Black Hack cyber ninja game wooo)

Using foul magics, an unknown group tried to kill me and my son. We investigated, and found out who the nefarious bastards were: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We confronted them in my high school library, where they were idly surfing the internet. I asked if we could take things outside, to reduce civilian casualties, and they agreed. We met across the street, in a golf course (not actually across the street from my high school library).

"I want to thank you two for coming," I said, as Lincoln struck a kung fu pose. He nodded graciously, smiling. "But I can't thank you for your attempt on my life, on my son's life!" I shouted. His visage was filled with rage. He charged me.

I remember fighting him off. I was thrown into the air by Washington, but in true anime ninja style, I pushed off the air and rocketed down at him, feet first. Just before I could crush him, Lincoln grabbed my ankles and held me aloft by them. He laughed cruelly.

Washington went after my son, and Lincoln, though weighed down by me, began swinging me about like a club.

He eventually tired of trying to hit my son with me, and hurled me away. When I recovered and rushed back, they were holding my son down, trying to break his knee. I superman leapt at Washington. I slammed into him and the sky and green tumbled around us. We found ourselves in a sand trap, grappling.

Washington drew a 1911 pistol from his coat and I grabbed his wrist just as he fired. Sand exploded around me as the gun fired again and again. With my free hand I grabbed his throat and crushed it. Washington died with a surprised look on his face. I took up his gun.

Lincoln was grappling my son as I rose from the trap.

"It's over, Lincoln!"

He pushed away from my boy (obligatory God of War BOI yell). He stood up, glaring at me.

"You don't understand. Four score and seven years ago, a great prophesy -"

I shot Lincoln in the chest. I didn't need to hear why he was in the right. I just needed to save my son.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Techno-Psychic Samurai Hack

This is a combination of ideas from The Black Hack and Techno-Psychic Samurai. And watching actual plays of Metal Gear Rising. I have not playtested anything yet, use at your own risk. This isn't done either - I need to think through cyberware and psychic powers a bit, action feat-things you may gain when you level, etc.

Vat-Grown Ronin

You are a vat-grown samurai, or a human head and partial face atop a robotic body. You do not roll for your attributes, your manufacturers tried to leave nothing to chance. Despite their best efforts, you have regained or created your own will and purpose. You are a ronin.


Samurai: Used for fighting and etiquette

Techno: Interface with technology, use implants if necessary, hack, etc. Used to sneak through laser tripwires or past robots or security cameras.

Psychic: Your ability to sense others chi fields, read their intent, and use esper powers. Used to sneak around organic entities.

Philosophizing: Used to debate others, try to sway them to your point of view or distract them before a dishonorable sneaky attack.

Assign: 15, 13, 11, 9 to the four stats.

You begin with 22 hit points. You have 4 hit dice for the purposes of fighting.

(Edit: optional thoughts. I want to cap stat growth at 16, after running the Rad Hack for some kids who rolled really well. Just so even at best there's a chance of failure. Or - stats and HP do not grow as you level up. You can switch any two attributes when you level up, if you can explain why it happened.)

You advance mechanically by gaining some abilities (esper, feat-things) that should be more about having different options for approaching problems, rather than just 'fight moar better.' Which happens anyway, in the sense that a 6HD enemy gets easier to solo when you advance.

You roll-under your stats to do things, just like in the Black Hack. Enemies with higher HD than you are harder to hit or debate - add the difference between their HD and yours to the roll.

All weapons and trained unarmed attacks do 1d6 damage. Some weapons or cyberfists can expend chi batteries to add +1 or +2 to the roll. This is a nod to Tenra Bansho Zero, another inspiration. Philosophizing can also do damage; see conflict, below.


Combat and conflicts are a little different - you describe what you do and that happens. You can't describe insta-gibbing someone though, but you can describe hits, damage, and the like. You do this before you roll any dice, and what you say happens. You then roll to hit and roll damage as normal, but these things are about reducing one side's narrative control, rather than rolling to figure out what you can describe.

If your enemy runs out of HP after rolling and subtracting HP, you get to narrate how you win - knocking them out, killing them, them running off. You might have whittled them down via philosophizing, and they may become friendlier to your cause.

If the enemy still has HP, the enemy gets to do the same thing in the next round - throwing you through a wall, beating you with a sword and spraying blood around, shaking your convictions to the core with some argument. HP are a measure of whether you get to keep narrating in the conflict or not. This is an idea from Norbert over here, where he probably describes it better than I do.

esper powers


example enemies

Friday, April 6, 2018

Shaved Bullet Mishap Table


I'd been reading FUTUREPUNK lately and had a hankering to play some OSR cyberpunk stuff.

Here is Scrap Princess' original post about shadowrun. It is the greatest post on shadowrun I've ever read, and really applies well to making cyberpunk more dystopian and crazy.

Here's a Reddit post summing up Scrap Princess' awesome post on Shadowrun.

She mentioned how guns and ammo in the cyberpunk future are like electronic devices and shitty chargers / cables but a million times worse. So you can find a gun and no bullets, or a gun and like there are 10 bullets for it in the city. BUT you can probably find a street vendor who can shave some bullets and can use some of those in your gun, and there totally won't be a table of terrible things that can happen when you use them.

If stuff is in parenthesis, that's GM knowledge, don't share it with the players without a roll, or without the player asking good questions. Sometimes bullets fail in ways that are weird or not obvious.

Totally not a table of terrible things that happen when you use scrap bullets.

  1. Keyholes - the bullet doesn't engage the rifling in the barrel, doesn't spin like a football, but tumbles like a dodo thrown from a cliff. Damage disadvantage, aim disadvantage.
  2. Cartridge case cracks, warps, jammed in place. Shot goes off as normal, but you need metal fingers or tools and a quiet minute to pry it out. Metal fingers means you can do it in one round.
  3. The casing stovepipes coming out, is in pieces. Gun fires as normal, but you have to work the gun to clear the case, turn it upside-down, shake it, etc. Low/normal dexterity characters need a whole round; high dex means you can do it as a free action. If using a revolver, ignore this!
  4. Squib round. Gun barely makes a noise, has little recoil. (The bullet is lodged in the barrel.) Describe that, roll to notice / know what this is, if that's your system. If you fire the gun again without spending minutes hammering the bullet out of the barrel, the gun will explode. Hopefully the PC wasn't using auto fire or it's boom time.
  5. Barrel cracks from too-hard / too-powerful round. Damage and aim disadvantage going forward. Each shot afterwards has a 1/6 chance of the gun exploding.
  6. Bullet shatters as it exits the barrel. Aim advantage, damage disadvantage.
  7. Misfire, gun goes 'click,' low/normal dex means 1 round to clear. Revolvers can just keep firing - you clear the misfire by pulling the trigger more.
  8. Misfire, see above (actually a hang fire shhhh. Gun will shoot in some number of seconds). Low/normal dex = 1 round to clear. If cleared, 50/50 chance the gun explodes when the bullet detonates out of battery, otherwise it pops off on the ground and the brass casing flies off, pretty harmless if you're not standing directly atop it. If using a revolver, can keep firing, but gun explodes in 1d4 rounds. (The textbook / at the range thing to do is keep the gun pointing in a safe direction and wait 30 seconds, but hah, like shadow runners are gonna do that. If they did then it's like taking an aimed shot.) (PCs probably know that misfires and hangfires happen, and that they closely resemble each other for the first couple of seconds.)
  9. Badly shaped. Aim disadvantage.
  10. Accidentally armor-piercing. Ignores armor. (An IRL myth of bullet shaving.)
  11. Accidentally hollow-point. Damage advantage, armor is stronger against this.
  12. Gun goes click. Bullet jams in the magazine. Can reload to keep using the gun. Need a few minutes to fix the magazine or to get any other bullets out of it.
  13. Tracer round! Can ignite gasoline, makes a bright zippy light pointing right back at you.
  14. Depleted Uranium Round! Ignores armor, dust from the bullet can give birth defects or cancer.
  15. Hyper Round. Super loud, huge blast, 1/6 detonates non-hyper-tech guns. Check if deafened for 1d6 hours, or explodes a silencer if attached. No damage bonus, this was a marketing gimmick.
  16. Ripper Round. Delayed-fuse exploding monofilament. 50% it explodes in battery (ie in the gun) and wrecks gun and guaranteed does damage to PC, no roll to avoid like below. Otherwise damage advantage, ignores armor. They never worked the bugs out, so these never caught on.
  17. Gun fires but it was shaved so much, practically a blank. At point-blank range the gun has damage disadvantage, otherwise no effect on target.
  18. 911 e-phone round. Summons a very confused DocWagon in 1d20 rounds. Emits a loud screeching alarm from the wound / thing shot.
  19. Curved shot. Cannot hit target, roll attack against someone else randomly to your front. 
  20. Curved upward shot. Goes almost straight up. Normal attack at point blank range, otherwise you just made loud noise woo hoo.

When should you roll on this table

It depends on how shitty you want shaved bullets to be. If I was running Futurepunk I'd make every scrap bullet use roll 1d6, on a 5-6 you don't have to roll on this table. (The tradeoff is slowing down combat potentially, but, EH. Just roll an extra d6 that's a different color, or have the GM roll for mishaps and the player roll for firing.) My goal is to make an excuse for people to use swords in a cyberpunk dystopia. Or for, as someone stated in the Scrap thread, for characters to beat each other to death with their phones.

Shaved bullets should be awful; high-tech guns should roll on some kind of 'high tech malfunction' table per use or so as well. Anything good that works consistently should be some rarified high-tech that people will kill over. Or some rare modern gun which wasn't destroyed by a weapon-eater nanite cloud during the Digital Wars.

Gun Explodes Rules for Futurepunk

Roll 2d6. Roll 3d6 if you have really serious gloves, a riot helmet with a face-shield, fully enclosed armor is maybe 4d6, etc. If any die is a 5 or a 6, you're fine! Otherwise you can take damage, get disoriented, get knocked down, whatever, the GM makes a hard move kind of thing.